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Torch the Place Revision

Refresh your memory of Torch the Place by Benjamin Law, and prepare for the VCE Theatre Studies examination.

By Nick Tranter

Explore this interactive resource to refresh your memory of the MTC production, including script excerpts and practice questions to help you prepare for the VCE Theatre Studies examination.

 

Elements of Theatre Composition

Click the buttons in the interactive image below to explore examples of the elements of theatre composition in Torch the Place. What other examples can you think of? Choose one element and write a concise paragraph describing how it was manipulated in the performance.

TIP: For the best experience, view on a larger screen like a desktop or iPad. Click the arrows in the bottom-right corner to view full screen.

 

CREATIVE TEAM QUOTES

Read the quotes from the creative team below, then scroll through the photo gallery to find moments from the performance that demonstrate their comments. For each quote, write a short reflection about how it relates to your experience of the production.

Benjamin Law (Playwright)

‘A lot of what I write is action. In fact, there’s one scene where there are minutes that just pass by without dialogue – it’s simply the character moving on stage – and that’s how real life works as well. … Sometimes so much more can be said without saying anything: people get passive aggressive; people get silent; and they express themselves through motion instead.’

Dean Bryant (Director)

‘I would say it's heightened naturalism. We are playing real people, with a sense of the heightened comedy that is a trademark of Benjamin Law writing.’

Kat Chan (Costume Designer)

'Each character is very distinct in their personality and position within the family unit, for example, Natalie is the successful, model jet setting daughter who is the most removed from the family in many ways, so her costume is made up of designer clothes that look incongruous to the domestic setting and other characters.'

Isabel Hudson (Set Designer)

‘One of the initial staging tools that the director (Dean Bryant) and I spoke about was the revolve. In the design the revolve functions as a way to move the story from momentum and sometimes acts as a way to represent time passing. It also provides momentum and movement showing us different perspectives of the set, and allows us to move with the actors, like a camera, as they move from room to room in the “house”.’

Amelia Lever-Davidson (Lighting Designer)

Torch the Place makes use of a large number of practical lights within the set. There is an assortment of lamps, chosen by the set designer and I, which adds to the chaos of the junk onstage, and helps bring a bit of visual aliveness to it. A number of appliances and pieces of furniture in the set need to transform in the fantasy sequences, and are fitted with LEDs to help them take on magical properties. Because these practicals are mounted to portable trucks on a revolve, they are battery power and wirelessly controlled to allow them to operate without being plugged into anything.’

Clemence Williams (Composer & Sound Designer)

'[The] Mulan [scene] starts out as being on the TV only (diegetic) but then expands out to the whole theatre like we are all inside the movie (non-diegetic).'

 

SCRIPT EXCERPTS

For each of the following questions, read the script excerpt and look closely at the production photos to recall what happened on stage.

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MTC TORCH THE PLACE photo JeffBusby 1061small jniqgmMichelle Lim Davidson. PHOTO: Jeff Busby

Question 1

Analyse how two or more production roles interpreted the script excerpt above for performance.

Question 2

How did one actor contribute to the interpretation of the script excerpt above to realise the performance? 

 

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MTC_TORCH_THE_PLACE_photo_Jeff_Busby_1315.jpgMax Brown, Diana Lin & Charles Wu. PHOTO: Jeff Busby

Question 3

How did one or more actors contribute to the interpretation of the script excerpt above to realise the performance? 

Question 4

Evaluate how set design used motion and cohesion to interpret the script in the MTC production. In your response, refer to the script excerpt above, and other parts of the script.

 

Share your responses with your teacher for feedback, and discuss other examples you could use with your peers. Always remember to consult VCAA documents when preparing for VCE exams.

 

FROM THE CAST

Read the quotes from the cast below, and make a list of words you could use to describe the actors' use of expressive skills. For each quote, write a short reflection about how it relates to your experience of the production.

Diana Lin (Mum)

'Diana is a quite neurotic character. I use wringing hands, small nervous ticks, and some moments with regular repeated movements. To show her age, I hunch over a little bit but what is more important is that she’s a very youthful character. She is bursting with energy and that is reflected in how energised her voice and gestures are when she speaks.'

Fiona Choi (Teresa)

'Teresa is a straight-laced school teacher who likes to be in control so at times a righteous, patronising tone creeps in. She is often exasperated, impatient and constantly planning ahead, which also gives her a jerky, staccato-like body language.'

Michelle Lim Davidson (Natalie)

'Natalie is used to having people pay attention to her and is constantly aware of how she is presenting herself, so I’m working that into my physicality. She is always photo ready. Natalie doesn’t just sit on a chair; she makes sure she is always in a flattering model-like position. Gradually throughout the play she becomes more relaxed and focuses less on how she presents herself.'

Charles Wu (Toby)

'Toby is described as ‘sickly’ and constantly sneezes, scratches, and snatches at breath throughout the play. He has a lot of trouble with physical exertion and emotional duress. Teresa and Natalie take great joy out of mocking Toby’s gloominess, his glum voice an especially constant trigger.'

Max Brown (Paul)

'A lot of my characterisation is vocal; I get to Paul's voice by “closing off” the back of my throat when talking and letting it get a tad growly, broadening the vowels, dropping the “g” on the end of some words.'

 

REVISIT THE TEXT

Now's a great time to re-read the script. You can purchase the script for Torch the Place by Benjamin Law here. Don't forget to revisit the two-part Education Pack as well. Download Part A here, and Part B here.

Published on 10 August 2020

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